Middle East Peace Talks, Venus & Mars Style

Skeptics abound when it comes to the latest round of Middle East peace talks.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never been a big fan before, but he obviously sees the potential political benefits.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appears open to the discussions, but his compatriots?  Not so much.  And, realistically, every time the United States has tried to act as the well-meaning go-between on this road the results have been less than we’ve hoped for.

Opinion pages are mulling all this over and trying to analyze the current talks from the same old perspective — focusing on the Middle East leaders –  this time, Netanyahu and Abbas.  I say it could be different this time because there’s a woman involved.

Call it Venus and Mars goes to the Middle East.

I’m not trying to be funny.  It occurred to me as I watched the announcement of the talks with  Hillary Clinton looking all 2012 (plus she’s rocking the new ‘do!), that maybe this has been the missing ingredient that could make things different.

If men and women really do communicate in their own unique but sometimes opposite styles, then there’s a possibility that this is the best opportunity we have for a different outcome.  It’s been all men, all the time in other efforts, regardless of the setting  –  Camp David or Maryland’s Eastern Shore — or which president was in office.

If women approach problems differently than men and bring a different language to solving those issues, Hillary could be exactly the one to get Netanyahu and Abbas out of their man caves and into a place where they’re willing to consider things in a different light, actually creating a place in their part of the world where we bring the endless violence down a couple of notches.

President Obama, according to The Guardian, said of Clinton’s role:

[Her] task [is] to get the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to ‘start thinking about how can they help the other succeed, as opposed to how do they figure out a way for the other to fail.’

And isn’t that what women do so much better than men — looking at problems from a place of, “How can we resolve this so everyone comes out a winner,” rather than the every man for himself perspective that we see too frequently on the world stage.

In some ways, while the political issues are obvious and the stakes are high, it’s really not rocket science to understand that only a different way of approaching the Middle East crisis is going to have any impact on moving forward on a situation that’s been horrible entrenched since this photo:

I bet Deborah Tannen, the author of so many communications books like You Just Don’t Understand, probably has a lot to say about this.  But until she does, I figured I’d take up the mantle.

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5 Responses to “Middle East Peace Talks, Venus & Mars Style”

  1. Colleen Says:

    Weren’t both Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice involved in Middle East peace negotiations during the time they each held the office of Secretary of State

  2. Joanne Bamberger aka PunditMom Says:

    True, but they were never really out front in the photo op way that Clinton was at that announcement — usually that’s reserved for the President to make that sort of announcement. It seems that Hillary is much more involved in the process and there weren’t any real “peace talks” as such in the Bush administration, and Bill Clinton really took the lead while he was in office.

  3. Jill Miller Zimon Says:

    Thanks again for this post, Joanne.

    I’d also add, re: Condi Rice, there was no way on earth that Rove, Cheney or Bush was going to let her have the day, no matter what. The disagreements between Colin Powell, Rice, Bush, Cheney are supposedly legion. And Bush made it clear from the start in 2001 that he’d be hands of the Middle East – which ALWAYS flabbergasted me when people (Jews in particular) would say that think the Republicans tend to be stronger on the Middle East – because they let people use weaponry and military any way they want without US intervention?

    Okay – next up though – Saudi Arabia and selling them $90 BILLION in military equipment. What is UP with that!?

  4. Colleen Says:

    The point I wanted to make is that while there may be something that Hillary Clinton as an individual brings to the table that will make her more successful, it is not simply that she is “a woman.” Women have been involved before.

  5. Jonathan Talbot Says:

    It may be that a critical mass of women is required for a breakthrough. Research by The Institute for Inclusive Security and others suggest this is the case in other scenarios, such as membership in national parliaments or police forces.

    Read more about the Palestinian women technical experts who might make the difference here:

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